Ecological Learning Collaboratory

Rachel Bezner Kerr with Malawi collaborators
Rachel Bezner Kerr (right) with collaborators Lizzie Shumba and Esther Lupafya from the Soils, Food and Healthy Communities organization in Malawi. Photo by Carmen Bezner Kerr

Supported by the Einaudi Center and the Institute for the Social Sciences, the Ecological Learning Collaboratory is a two-year project to explore the learning, dissemination, and innovation of ecological strategies in the development of just and sustainable food and healing systems rooted in place.

Presentation at Nilgiris Field Learning Center
Cornell students and faculty share observations at the Nilgiris Field Learning Center in India. Photo by Neema Kudva.

The project works through a series of workshops with practitioners in India, Malawi, and Tanzania who are actively working to address the health of their communities. The goal is to generate ecological and just learning spaces that foster social innovation and equity around healthy food, medicines, and the right to place.

The collaborators recognize that both ecologies and knowledges have been remade through the extension of colonialism and international development. Thinking about the making of space and place, including those plants that labor with humans to make places, are a critical site of exploration.

The Ecological Learning Collaboratory does not seek to develop another discrete model of development, but rather to establish the kinds of relationships that open up place making as the site of inquiry.

Lead Cornell faculty

Neema Kudva (City and Regional Planning), Rachel Bezner Kerr (Development Sociology), Stacey Langwick (Anthropology)

International partners



Woman and man in garden
Helen Nguya, founder of TRMEGA in Tanzania, advises a neighbor on his garden. Photo by Stacey Langwick.


  • Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center
  • Training, Research, Monitoring and Evaluation on Gender and AIDS (TRMEGA)
  • Women Development for Science and Technology (WODSTA)
  • Dorkia Enterprises

Meeting plans

The Ecological Learning Collaboratory will launch with a meeting at Cornell's Ithaca campus from May 29–June 2, 2018. Follow-up exchanges are being planned in India, Malawi, and Tanzania. Watch this space for details.